Consumers love Microsoft, Amazon distrust Facebook, Twitter

Verge consumer survey shows what tech companies are loved and disdained

The Verge completed a follow up survey to its 2016 survey on public perceptions of tech firms. Facebook lacked trust in 2016 and has fallen precipitously, while Amazon, adored in 2016, remains a public favorite. Microsoft is the must trusted tech company (75% trust it), followed by Amazon (73% trust it).

  • 56 percent said the government should break up tech companies if they control too much of the economy
  • 72 percent said that Facebook has too much power
  • 51 percent said Google and YouTube should be split into separate companies

dis-rup-shun: What is surprising about the survey is that Apple is in the bottom half of companies discussed. Has Apple’s premium product positioning and pricing made it an elitist brand that does not appeal to the masses as do Google, Netflix, and Amazon? Perhaps Apple has become the Nordstrom’s in a Target world, where technology is now a lifestyle necessity of all but the most impoverished, and highly accessible brands are seen as providing great utility to society. Facebook, however, remains a powerful but disliked brand — a precarious position for long-term success.

Walmart readies answer to Amazon Prime

Walmart will soon launch Walmart + which is a fee-based loyalty program aimed to combat Amazon Prime. Amazon now controls 40% of online retail, controls 5%. Walmart is exploring perks for which it has a unique advantage, such as 1,600 grocery stores in the U.S. that could provide free delivery. Aside from free grocery delivery, the retail giant may be hard pressed to find other advantages its chain can offer over Amazon. Vox

dis-rup-shun: Amazon has changed the rules of shopping, with Sunday deliveries so successful that FedEx trucks are rolling down neighborhood streets on Sunday. To beat Amazon at its game, Walmart must not only offer equivalent one to two-day delivery, but must provide a product that so delights customers, as Amazon Prime Video does, that consumers will, as with Amazon, feel as if they are receiving something for free. Grocery delivery is great, but more of a necessity than a pleasure. Free ice cream delivery, or make it dessert delivery, could be a game changer.

AT&T TV: meet the new face of cable TV

AT&T has exactly eight video service offerings, and the newest is simply AT&T TV. The new service looks like a skinny cable bundle (just the major channels), is delivered over the Internet, and costs only $50 per month. The catch, however, is that a two year contract is required, and year 2 costs $93 per month before a plethora of add-ons. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The masses are cutting the cord and there are many, many streaming TV package alternatives. Hulu and YouTube TV are the early leaders with bundles that look like cable, but cost a lot less, and provide whole-home (multiple device) solutions. AT&T TV is a clever offering, in that it will appeal to those that believe they should join the cord cutting revolution, yet just aren’t sure if non-traditional providers will give them what they want. Enter AT&T with a promise to deliver the new TV dream while also providing a familiar pricing package full of expensive add-ons and increasing prices over a contract period. Once again, the company will churn the same user base that it recently churned from U-Verse to DirecTV.

Another one (SpaceX rocket) bites the dust

Elon Musk’s SpaceX lost another Starship that apparently buckled under pressure as nitrogen filled its tanks. This follows a series of failures of different types and parts of rockets as the company remains hellbent on getting reusable space travel ready for prime time ahead of competitors. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Every rocket failure can be seen as a setback, but should be seen as great progress towards achieving safety in space. Every failure, let’s hope, is one less that will occur with precious cargo such as humans, aboard. The stakes for winning space are very high and commercial space travel is one area of technology that American entrepreneurs are leading the globe.

The next TV gets 4K over the air

The next gen TV is built for cord cutting with 4K tuner

TV features continue to evolve quickly, even though people don’t replace TVs quickly. The latest feature is including a 4K tuner into the TV. TV channels in most major markets will begin to transmit the super high resolution 4K format over the air (free) this year. Cord cutters can rely on an antenna to receive local stations in 4K provided they have a built in tuner (new TV) or using an external set top box. Antenna and set top box are extras to purchase. CNET

dis-rup-shun: For those wishing to cut the cord (see instructions in Tuesday’s post), to receive local channels, one can either use the local TV apps provided by Roku or  YouTube TV or one can put up an antenna on the roof or in the attic, and either buy a special set top box or a new 4K ATSC 3.0 compatible TV. With TV features now changing quickly, you should buy up when purchasing a TV, hoping that spending a few hundred extra dollars will keep your TV compatible with the latest technology for a few more years. Unfortunately it looks like the days of not having a bunch of extra boxes plugged into your older TVs will never arrive. Despite the amazing technologies available for home entertainment, it seems that every home implements TV a bit differently, challenging the AirBnB concept and making hospitality TV systems in hotels even more necessary.

DNA testing is down, impacting 23andMe

Makers of DNA testing equipment confirmed what CEO of 23andME reported, and that is people are doing less DNA testing. The breakthrough technology enabling consumers to test their DNA led to fast growth for the company, ballooning to 700 people. The company is now laying off 100 employees due to a sharp decrease in testing that started in 2019. The CEO attributes the downturn to people’s concerns for privacy, and fear of a recession, resulting in more cautious spending. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The fears of a recession in 2020 seem to have calmed, so the drop in DNA testing must, in fact, be related to privacy. It is a fact that many people who have performed the test are not happy with what they have discovered, but the question is, is there a growing wave of consumer fear about loss of privacy? Ring, the doorbell camera maker, is facing backlash from consumers over video sharing. Consumers whose homes or faces appear in their neighbors’ shared videos are feeling exposed, and perhaps a side effect of a connected society is a society that feels watched over. This is a trend to watch in the coming months.

Microsoft sets the path for a new kind of computer experience

The foldable computer is the post-CES buzz, and Microsoft is showing developers how to create dual screen apps that are properly split so that the fold, in a foldable, isn’t doesn’t obscure the app window. Microsoft is pushing a new form factor that is sort of like the current form factor. That is, the new computer is a clamshell, but the keyboard area is also a screen, and the screen extends upwards (where it should be). Getting developers to build apps for this new, unproven device will be a challenge, but one that Microsoft believes will pay off. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The PC form factor has not changed in years, so maybe the market is ready for something fresh. The thing that has kept tablets from taking over the computing world is the need for a keyboard. If a foldable computer doesn’t have a real keyboard, or an app flat on the desktop that works as well as a keyboard, then this new device is a multi-tablet screen. If this device is visually stunning, with lots of screen space, then making this an amazing video watching device may be the best path to market.

Robots hold things without touching them

Robotics are on the rise in manufacturing, and ultrasound technology enables robotic arms to suspend tiny, fragile, or sterile devices and move them, position them or place them. By blasting sound waves at a certain frequency, robots can keep an item suspended in mid air. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Robotics continue to perform specialized tasks, improving one task after another, and this suspension technology will enable robotics in settings such as surgery, medical equipment manufacturing, and many other applications. The success of robotics is in specialization rather than being an all purpose do-anything device, meaning that the idea of a really useful home assistant is at least a decade away.


Telemedicine as good as live

Telemedicine visits seen as effective as in-person

Telemedicine and remote doctor visits are particularly valuable in rural communities, where access to certain highly skilled providers is limited. In this free whitepaper, a recent study of patients at Mercy Children’s Hospital network determined that for children with Asthma, telemedicine visits proved as effective as in-person visits. TechRepublic

dis-rup-shun: Telemedicine will keep many rural hospitals in business despite their lack of diverse specialists at the local hospital. It is exciting to see telehealth working, providing people with quick, local access to care even if provided locally with the help of a distant specialist. The industry urgently needs more clinical data to confirm the success of telehealth and more case studies are needed to accelerate the new care models that will dominate our society in a few short years. Connecting to care specialist remotely will become the norm for people living in large cities as well as rural areas, a shift that will improve the economics and slow the rising costs of care while providing better experiences for patients.

Microsoft beats Amazon for Pentagon cloud contract

The JEDI contract, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, is a Department of Defensive initiate potentially worth $10 billion over ten years. The initiative is a significant computing upgrade for Defense, moving military operations to the latest cloud technology. Market leader AWS lost the deal to Microsoft’s Azure service. Some state that the decision was influenced by President Trump’s bumpy relationship with Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a newspaper known for criticism of the President. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft is on a strong run, with a number of victories for CEO Nadella and team. Amazon’s own success has fueled a number of Microsoft’s wins, most notably a significant cloud contract from Walmart, Amazon’s arch rival, and FedEx, two competitors to Amazon. Once considered an ‘evil empire’ for its dominance over the personal computing industry, Microsoft is now viewed as a humble, highly competent player, with Google, Facebook, Amazon and even Apple seen as the controversial bullies of BigTech.

Samsung’s modular TVs fit custom sizes and spaces

In its sponsored video series on new technologies, BestBuy with Gizmodo explains what is a modular TV and why it is unique. Modular TVs are bezel-less 8K TVs that can be fashioned into different sizes according to spaces and custom requirements.

dis-rup-shun: TVs in homes and, of course, in digital signage applications are about to get much more interesting, with entire TV walls replacing big TVs hanging in prominent places. As odd shaped panels appear in interesting spaces, new applications will arise to curate video content, which will remain in a letterbox format, to intermix TV and movie content with video content to fill in the gaps. Consumers will design the content layout of video walls, overlaying a rectangular NFL game over a virtual aquarium, for example. Control applications will turn consumers into video program directors, making playing with big screens that much more fun.

NASA building new rover to find water on the Moon

The VIPER rover is a small vehicle that will explore the dark south pole of the Moon where the presence of ice crystals has been confirmed in prior explorations. The VIPER will drill samples in the Moon’s surface when sensors determine it is near water. The craft is scheduled to begin work in 2022 and will be conveyed to the Moon by one of the commercial space companies vying for NASA contracts. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Plans for locating, drilling, pumping, storing and maybe even purifying Lunar water has implications for many industries. Who will be the water utility for the Moon? A cadre of contractors will be required to help NASA get into the water business, and consortia consisting of aerospace companies along with hydro engineering companies, pipe and pump companies will all compete for future contracts. New interest in the Moon and space will direct millions of dollars to space technology companies.

Facebook’s Libra currency backers reconsidering

Facebook’s Libra currency unraveling

The Libra Association, featuring 28 companies supporting Facebook’s third-party currency, has been under attach since it was announced. PayPal announced that it was pulling out of the association and Visa and MasterCard are reconsidering their involvement. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The Libra Association is a fascinating idea, as a widely backed alternative currency would likely be less open to political manipulation and might be a vehicle to accelerate a real free market global economy. Big Tech is on trial in Washington, and the last partner you want to have, if you are seeking to escape Congressional insight, is Facebook. Sorry Facebook, you need to mend some fences and build some bridges before challenging global governments with your own monetary instruments.

New Google shopping feature provides daily price updates

Over the weekend, Google added a new feature that enables shoppers to watch pricing of a product from all online sources daily, and receive a report each day on any price changes. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Google has gained a shopping advantage over Amazon and could potentially steer shoppers away from Amazon if a competitor offers a better price. Meanwhile, Google will be tracking the sites shoppers visit and building algorithms to determine from which one people purchased. The company could potentially lure shoppers to its own shopping sites and drop prices on select products for interested shoppers. Could this be the beginning of custom pricing for individuals, based on a number of factors? Google certainly has the potential to sell the data to retailers who wish to provide specials on certain products in exchange for volume.

30 best video games of the decade

CNET ranks the 30 best video games of this decade — one which has seen drastic tech innovation, including graphic processors (GPUs), fast connectivity for multi-players, maturing of a new generation of consoles, and all you can eat gaming subscription services. CNET’s top 5 titles are:

  1. Breath of the Wild
  2. Dark Souls
  3. Minecraft
  4. Portal 2
  5. Red Dead Redemption

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s game service seeks to make everyone a gamer, or at least a casual gamer, with thousands of titles available for a single monthly price, and the ability to play across platforms. What you started on the smartphone on the train during your commute can be continued on the office PC during break time. The risky business of investing millions in a game title and hoping it will be a hit may change with subscription services, enabling a title to be instantly distributed to a large audience. 

Microsoft files patent for virtual reality mat

A new patent filed by Microsoft envisions a mat or carpet that is sensitized and connected to virtual reality devices, including smartphones and computers. With the mat, one might receive tactile feedback as you move around the room, providing haptic feedback to your feet. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Adding the floor to the experience is a logical extension of VR, but it seems like VR is going the way of 3D TV — plenty of offerings but not much consumer excitement. For hard core gamers, VR experiences are amazing, but the mass market consumer is yet to get excited about wearing glasses or headsets that take them completely out of real reality. Microsoft was also a leader in surface computing (the plane, not the PC/tablet device), that would turn any surface, like a table or counter top, into a computer but that technology has yet to become mainstream.

Ikea doubles down on smart home

Ikea commits to become a force in smart home

Ikea revealed its smart home and IOT strategy by announcing a new smart home division that will aggressively ramp up its start in smart home products. Previously the company released a line of lamps with Sonos speakers, and a line of smart lighting before that. The company’s smart home division is an significant part of its future strategy. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Ikea’s announcement is another good sign for the smart home industry, as the consumer is being surrounded on all sides by all channels with IoT and smart home products. The smart home section in Best Buy has grown from a portion of an isle five years ago, to three isles in many stores. Smart home products are integrated into offerings from telcos, cablecos, security companies, energy providers, retailers, and now furniture makers. Ikea’s excellent design, value and user experience will further elevate the penetration of smart home technology into the mass market.

39% of execs believe China will lead AI

A survey of worldwide execs believe that China will overtake the U.S. as AI leader. 35% believe it unlikely. 50% of executives view machine learning and AI as the leading opportunity and cyber security risks are seen as the top operational challenge. Forbes

dis-rup-shun:  The sprint for world leadership in AI, and the neck and neck contest between the U.S. and China will make for blazing-fast acceleration of technology over the next decade, at least. The contest will create thousands of jobs as well as hopefully displacing fewer. Unfortunately, the contest will include development of increasingly powerful smart weaponry, and, sadly, more sophisticated hacking and cyber attacking technology.

AI changes the course of chip making

The race for AI includes implementing deep learning, or a process whereby AI processes are better with more data. Processing massive amounts of data to make quick and informed “decisions” requires math capable CPUs. For this reason, graphics processors (GPUs) from companies such as NVidia, have enjoyed significant demand for AI. New chip company Cerebras has announced a chip the size of an iPad itself, 56 times the size of NVidia’s most powerful GPU. With 1.2 trillion transistors, compared to NVidia’s 21.1 billion, Cerebras is a supercomputer on a chip. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Autonomous cars, planes and drones, for a few examples of IoT,  have to process thousands of data points and instantaneously adjust to changing external conditions. The compute power required to do so accurately is significant and, quite frankly, no one will trust these new vehicles until they are proven to respond flawlessly. Expect at least two Cerebra scale CPU’s — one primary and one redundant, in critical applications.

Microsoft hires former Siri chief

Bill Stasior, former head of Apple’s Siri products, was previously a senior executive at Amazon. Microsoft’s answer to Siri, called Cortana, was unbundled from Windows 10’s search box last year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in the areas of voice, as Cortana is not found in many devices and without a force in the smartphone or smart speaker market, Microsoft has mostly missed the voice interface race. Microsoft’s smart home and IOT strategy includes a number of investments in AI and machine learning and has likely tapped Stasior to make voice a key part of future Windows versions, as well as some new products from Microsoft. Expect a new version of voice control to show up in Microsoft devices such as XBox, keyboards, mice, and, of course, Surface tablets and notebooks in about a year.

How would you regulate Big Tech?

Media and tech execs agree that regulation is inevitable

Execs gathered at Sun Valley conference agree that more regulation of Big Tech is inevitable, but point out that regulation should not be a matter of size, and must address anti-competitiveness and data privacy separately.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The tech industry is resigned that additional regulations are coming. Tech leaders such as Google and Facebook should lead the industry by working together to develop privacy standards along the lines of Europe’s GDPR’s standards and should develop a standard for fines to be paid by companies that fail to uphold privacy. This action would reduce the chances that lawmakers break up Big Tech.

U.S. Congress fails to create federal privacy laws

Lawmakers are angry with the FTC’s proposed $5 billion settlement with Facebook for privacy violations. Senator Hawley (R- Missouri) is pushing to move oversight of tech companies away from the FTC. Senators Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Markey (D-Mass) are pushing for sweeping reform of privacy laws that are seen as too aggressive by conservatives. Meanwhile Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) is calling for breakup of Tech Giants for thwarting competition. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Good news: our elected officials are seeking tighter privacy restrictions which are required for our tech economy to offer services valued, trusted and loved by millions of consumers. Bad news: our lawmakers’ inability to find consensus on nearly any policies will enable Big Tech to continue down its current course of “trust us, we will keep data safe.”

Are virtual reality applications DOA?

For years, news reports of virtual reality for the consumer have said the technology is coming to living rooms soon. VR makers are finding that the high cost of VR hardware, and the high cost of developing content, mean that the enterprise market is a better application for the technology than consumers. HP, Varjo, Microsoft and HTC are developing enterprise-grade VR applications for training and defense. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Virtual reality applications are similar to 3D TVs, for not one, but three years, the buzz at the Consumer Electronic Show was the advent of 3D in our living rooms. Mass market consumers have been reluctant to sit around the house with a something covering their faces and gamers have not found enough compelling content to make a multi-hundred dollar investment on a headset and game titles. Commercial applications will lower the costs of VR headsets, but it is unlikely that the technology will engage more than hard core game players even in the next half decade.

Verizon offers 5G hotspot

Furthering the race to provide 5G, Verizon has announced a mobile hot spot which enables devices to access its new screaming fast 5G network for a purchase price of $650 and monthly data plans costing $90 per month. Verizon is currently serving portions of 5 cities with 5G, and has announced 30 by year end. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: 5G is coming and changes the economics of the Internet of Things by a) making it possible to provide really fast bandwidth to mobile things like cars, or planes or non-mobile things without copper wires such as new buildings, and b) by making 4G a lot less expensive than it is today, enabling things like water meters, security systems, and traffic lights to be inexpensively connected to central stations, providing vast amounts of data that can be used to improve services.

SpaceVR seeks to spread spirituality of space to Earth

Most travelers to space express spiritual moment called Overview Effect. This experience occurs when one gets a view of the Earth from outer space. SpaceVR is a company that plans to launch a satellite that will beam realtime videos of Earth to users of its virtual reality viewing device. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The race to control a piece of space is now being run my many companies and a number of governments. Only one company is looking to outer space to bring a greater sense of peace and purpose to Earth. Let’s hope they are successful.

Big Tech stares down Congress

Congress summons Big Tech for a big chat

Top executives from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google were on the Hill this week, arguing that they are not monopolies and are not using customer data for competitive advantage. Data is used, said Amazon’s Sutton, to better serve customers, when asked if the company launches its own products based on what’s selling. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Everyone except for small business was a winner this week as congress persons posed as tough on tech, tech executives sounded smarter than legislators by delivering punchy but circuitous answers, and lobbyists validated their billings by offering evidence that tech is increasingly under fire by legislators. Legislators have to find the balance between an increasingly less-competitive landscape and nationalistic interests in defending against global competition, mainly from China, for next generation technology dominance.

Netflix faces first significant subscriber loss 

In Q2, Netflix faced loss of 130,000 U.S. subscribers and added only 2.7 million global subs instead of the predicted 5 million. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Why is the unstoppable streaming service slowing down? A number of reasons, and they aren’t new competition, as Disney, Apple and AT&T’s ‘Netflix killer’ streaming services are not yet open. The reasons include saturation — with nearly 60% of U.S. households already subscribers, those that aren’t, don’t want to spend the money or don’t watch TV. Existing competition is increasing its original content, making some other services more desirable than Netflix (since House of Cards is finished), and rising inflation has been slowly taking a bite out of U.S. consumers’ disposable incomes. Netflix may be an indicator of a slowing economy.

AT&T and Microsoft form $2 billion alliance for cloud and 5G

AT&T announced that it will move much of its business computing needs to Microsoft’s public cloud, Azure. In addition, it’s 268,000 employee workforce will use Microsoft  365 applications for its computing needs. The $2 billion deal does not include AT&T outsourcing its network infrastructure, like cellular communications networks. The companies are also cooperating on development of 5G tools. Reuters

dis-rup-shun: This deal looks like a huge win for Microsoft and likely a cost-savings move for AT&T which continues to seek efficiencies as it prepares to engage in a long battle for streaming content viewership following integration of Time Warner. Microsoft Azure is cleaning up cloud services accounts from many companies that consider Amazon a competitor on various fronts including retailers (Walmart) and shippers (FedEx). Microsoft also secured additional defense against Google apps by ensuring that AT&T continues to use Microsoft’s office tools.

Maps with images only moments old

Online maps such as Google Street View feature photos of locations that are often months if not years old. Nexar’s Live Map application uses dash cam and smartphone images to refresh map images constantly, showing viewers a wreck moments after it happened. The company has been quick to address privacy concerns by stating that pictures of people, addresses and licenses are anonymized and blurred. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Privacy is a big concern when a) everyone’s every move is captured on a dash or doorbell camera, and b) companies collect and store those images and promise to self-police breaches in privacy. This puts companies in a position of high liability as they are liable to shareholders to monetize data they collect, and liable to society to not use that data in a way that would compromise privacy. Big profits come to those that expose secrets.

The gadgets that most changed our lives this decade

The devices that most altered our lifestyle in the 2010s

While the decade is not quite over, ZDNet provides a round up of consumer technologies that had the biggest impact on our lives. 

2010: Apple iPad. Other tablets existed but failed until Apple provide an easy to use interface and many, many available apps.

2011: Chromebook. The browser only computer-like device was a big hit for the educational sector.

2012 Raspberry Pi. This $25 development computer was the basic building block for people to invent connected devices.

2013: Playstation 4 and XBOX One. These consoles are responsible for an entire refresh of game console libraries.

2014: Satya Nadella and Windows 10. Nadella took over a flagging Microsoft from Steve Ballmer and put it back on track.

2015: Amazon Echo and Alexa. Amazon has made Alexa the defacto voice interface for the home and soon, car.

2016: Pokemon Go. This game taught the world what augmented reality is and how it works.

2017: Nintendo Switch. Nintendo showed that it could regain its former stature with a portable game console.

2018: Apple Watch Series 4. This watch includes EKG readings and fall detection.

2019: To be named.

dis-rup-shun: PCs were widely available in the 1980s. The Internet was mainstream after 1995. Smartphones became mainstream after 2007. Uber changed transportation starting in 2009. The pace of technology innovation is increasing each year, making the release cycle between game changers shorter and shorter. In five years we will be talking about how drones changed the delivery business starting in 2020.

Tablets get a new lease on life as second screens

Apple has released an application called Sidecar which turns an iPad into a second monitor for a Mac. Just put the iPad into a stand and the device is a slave to the computer. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: A brilliant move by Apple and a real advantage over PCs. PCs will be quick to emulate this functionality, and maybe even Apple will enable this functionality for PCs in order to sell more iPads, but iPads were falling out of favor to slim laptops and large smartphones. This will keep people buying iPads.

Apple’s serious production woes

Apple contracted with Samsung to build a massive OLED (higher quality display technology) manufacturing plant to handle higher volumes of iPhones. Problem is, iPhone sales are way down, meaning the plant is running at less than 50% of capacity. To address this shortfall and liability to Samsung, Apple has cancelled its 5.8 inch iPhone model and will be adding OLED screens to a larger number of its products (that weren’t originally intended to get the better screens). That means better iPhones are coming in 2020, providing less incentive to upgrade in 2019. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: The economic impact of slowing iPhone sales will hit Apple hard. Its other popular products don’t have nearly the volume of iPhones. A slowing Apple will have a significant impact on a global economy that is appearing fragile. Bumpy road ahead.

Why the laws of competition don’t apply to tech giants

Monopolies, duopolies, and the role of regulators

The network effect, which states that the value of components in a network increase as the members increase, makes tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple almost impossible to slow down once they gain critical mass. The more users of a platform (iOS, for example), the more apps are developed for the ecosystem, making the ecosystem more valuable. Competing with that platform becomes extraordinarily difficult as exponentially rising network value creates insurmountable barriers to entry. Microsoft’s failed mobile OS is an example (see next article). The Verge

dis-rup-shun: As The Verge states, competition is good for the consumer and good for the economy. If the forces of competition are not able to scale the barriers to entry into network-based businesses, then it is the job of government regulators to level the playing field, or at least monitor the powers of those that control the network and access to its markets.

Microsoft’s biggest error ever

Speaking to Village Global venture group, Bill Gates said the biggest mistake in Microsoft’s past was missing the opportunity to be the alternative (to Apple) mobile OS provider – an opportunity lost to Android, which Google purchased in 2005 for the purposes of defeating Microsoft’s mobile strategy. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: For those that tried Microsoft mobile phones, you recall that the company really blew the customer experience opportunity. At the time, there were Blackberry, Motorola, Nokia and upstart iPhone. Microsoft’s error was to think it could squeeze the bloated WinCE operating system into a phone form factor. Rather than looking at the opportunity as a fresh, new ecosystem, Microsoft (Steve Ballmer) saw mobile phones as tiny Windows devices. The error launched Google’s fortunes in the Android business, both in licensing software and building handsets, while missing, likely forever, a future in mobile for both Microsoft and close partner, Intel.

Smart products suffering from lack of intelligence

TechCrunch reports on Samsung SmartThings’ release of a new camera, smart plug and smart bulb. The products work as expected but are described as not very exciting.

dis-rup-shun: Unfortunately much of the smart home industry is still competing on devices — expecting the white box or switch with the most features or protocols to prevail. Machine learning, however, is the competitive differentiation that will make smart homes intelligent homes. By using data profiles of users and ‘understanding’ habits, as well as deviations from those habits, connected products will operate for users, not by users, and will become ubiquitous in new homes and buildings. Connected products that do not use data and data analytics for their operation will remain lackluster to the markets.

Hackers have infiltrated over 10 mobile carriers

According to cyber security firm Cybereason, hackers have infiltrated over ten global wireless carriers and, prior to detection, could have shut the networks down at any time. The firm says none of the carriers are in the U.S., but spread around the globe. CNet 

dis-rup-shun: Global infrastructure, including energy grids, wireless networks, and banking networks are dangerous prizes for hackers. With escalating tensions with Iran and ally, Russia, the West can expect a sharp increase in cyber attacks, and the future of defense will increasingly involve hardening networks and scanning for breaches.

Streaming TV to look like cable you just cancelled

How streaming TV is repeating the evolution of cable TV

Wired lists seven free streaming services with advertising that you will want to have as backups to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video accounts: IMDbTV, the Roku Channel, Kanopy, Tubi, Pluto TV, Crackle, and Vudu.

dis-rup-shun: If you are old enough to remember when cable TV was a new thing, you remember that for a reasonable monthly fee, your three-channel rabbit-ear antenna TV could become clear and sharp. Then came more channels. Then came movie channels such as HBO. Then came original content, like the Sopranos. Now that 76% of us U.S. households have Netlix and 51% have Amazon prime, we see the add on of many more streaming ‘channels’ or services. The next step will be bundling of many services into streaming packages, enabling one to access many services through a single sign-on and credit card authorization. With the pay TV providers such as AT&T driving those bundles, these new services will come from the same providers who used to offer cable TV packages. Once again we will be buying packages from big TV providers — but this time based on when we want to watch.

How apps get to the Apple App Store

Apple’s process for reviewing and approving or rejecting apps for publication on the App Store includes over 300 human reviewers who speak 81 languages, at two offices in Sunnyvale, CA with a goal to complete review of a submission within 24 to 48 hours. Each reviewer must review between 50 to 100 apps per day to ensure they run properly, are not illegal, and do not contain prohibited content. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Apple fan or not, one must credit the company on the high quality of available apps. Apple takes up to 30% of revenues generated from sales on the app store, so the company has an incentive to provide a quick turn-around and ensure a good app experience. TechCrunch states that 2/3rds of an estimated $75 billion (2018) in app revenue is generated by Apple’s app store. The revenue gap between Apple and the Google Play Store increased last year, with Apple advancing its lead. Research firm Sensor Tower states that rising revenue disparity is driven by increasing number of subscriptions to monthly services such as Netflix, and Tinder.

Drones for humanity

Eco-entrepreneurs are developing a working drone that will biodegrade in weeks after completing its mission. Otherlab of San Francisco has built a gliding drone made now from cardboard but later to be made of a mushroom-based mycelium material. The Apsara drone is funded by DARPA who required a design that not only could carry cargo to a designated spot, but that would also decompose quickly. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Given last week’s downing by Iran of a $220 million U.S. surveillance drone, it is easy to consider drones as weapons, but this brilliant drone design will enable humanitarian aid of emergency food supplies and medicines in an effective and responsible way — likely helping to maintain populations that are caught in the cross hairs of military actions.

Kano, the Erector Set of today, will boost STEM interest

Microsoft has invested in UK youth computer maker Kano which will now run Windows 10. The $300 computer kit comes with creativity and development software which encourages kids to design 3D objects, build their own programs, computer art, and collaborate with other builders through a youth version of Teams collaboration software. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Today’s youth have most often clamored for Apple to be their first device. By introducing a computer designed to engage youth prior to the age of ownership of first computer, Microsoft has seized on an opportunity to develop renewed interest from tomorrow’s newest scientists. Hopefully the move will address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students by developing an early interest in computer science.